A Romance Trope That I Hate: Discussing the Lack of Communication in Enemies to Lovers Books

Okay, okay, so hate might be a strong word but this trope always drive me crazy when I read it because I have yet to find a book where it’s actually executed well.

Oh, and as a heads up, this book will contain minor spoilers for:

  • Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

I am desperately searching for an “enemies to lovers” book that actually is a true enemies to lovers. Almost every book that I have read so far that claims this trope can be boiled down to, “We have never properly communicated our feelings and thoughts to each other so we obviously must ‘hate’ each other.” Sometimes I wonder if this is why I find myself drawn to Dramione (Draco and Hermione) fanfiction because they are the biggest enemies ever but always find a way to fit together so perfectly in the stories that they’re written in to.

As mentioned above, two of the books that I’ve read recently that are considered enemies to lovers are Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. I myself consider neither of these to fit under that category. I mean, in no way shape or form do I think that either of the couples in these books were actually enemies to begin with. It’s just surprising to me to see how little it takes to consider two people to be enemies.

Now in RWRB and The Unhoneymooners both pairs essentially hate each other because of one look, one fleeting moment that apparently made it obvious that one person hated the other. I mean Olive literally hated Ethan because he made a weird face when she bought cheese curds at the state fair and she made up an entire story as to what he must think of her. Like she basically accused him of fat shaming her when he literally didn’t even say a single word to her at that point in time. I can only guess what she must think of people with resting bitch face that accidentally look at her the wrong way once. I don’t want to be that annoying bitch that brings up the good old middle school statement of “you know what happens when you assume…” but I’m going to do it.

And because of the way that Olive feels, she lets herself stew in that anger and unwarranted hatred towards Ethan for absolutely no reason. It would have taken two seconds to say “What the hell kind of a face is that for?” at the time of the incident and they could have gotten that cleared up and squared away before they even left the state fair. From any point forward if Olive or Ethan either decided to act like an adult they could have easily just brought up the fact that they clearly were fighting for no reason but instead just let it stew. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for flirtatious fighting, it’s one of my favorite things, but when it comes from a source of miscommunication it just really grates on my nerves.

In RWRB it makes a tad bit more sense as to why they didn’t communicate their feelings towards each other. I mean they didn’t even live on the same continent. And the fact that Henry had feelings for Alex just kept him from doing the mature thing and actually talking to him.

To me, this enemies to lovers trope comes from a place of immaturity. It takes hardly any time at all to bring up things that are bugging you. It allows for you to avoid being passive aggressive and harboring anger towards someone that you might have absolutely no reason to be angry at! I mean look at what happened after Olive and Ethan and Alex and Henry actually talked about the inciting incidents that made them “enemies”… They realized that there was no reason to be feeling the way that they were feeling.

And this trope isn’t necessarily problematic but I just get so frustrated at the lack of communication. In both of these situations they really have no reason to begin as enemies. They just don’t talk to each other and let small matters overwhelm their opinions of someone. Does anyone else think this?

This lack of communication isn’t just an issue in enemies to lovers books though, I feel like it plagues all romance and contemporary books. I mean it has to, lack of communication always fuels that climactic moment when everything seems to fall apart before the inevitable happily ever after. And even though I love getting to that happily ever after, the older I get the more frustrated I become when people just get angry or ruin relationships because they don’t want to communicate their real thoughts and feelings. It’s beyond childish and seeing it pop up continuously in new adult and adult books just makes me wonder if ever we will all learn how to talk to each other like “adults” are supposed to.

I have a really hard time considering these books enemies to lovers because they have no warranted reasons to be enemies in the first place. I would hardly consider them enemies anyways, just dipshits who don’t know how to talk about their problems like adults should. It’s taken me years to learn how to talk to people about my frustrations instead of just bottling them up and I have to admit that I still most of the time just bottle it up and try to get along with everyone no matter what. Sometimes it’s just better for everyone involved. But in the books that I’ve mentioned here, that’s really not the case.

So again, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this topic! And if you have any recommendations for a real enemies to lovers story I’d love to hear it so I can give it a chance.

 

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A Trope That Never Bothered Me Before

So I finally sat down to read Save the Date by Morgan Matson. I’m going to preface this post by saying that Morgan Matson is one of my all time favorite authors and I will read absolutely anything that she comes out with. I also used to be quite obsessed with her Top 8 series the she wrote under the alias Katie Finn.

Warning you now that this post will contain minor spoilers for Morgan Matson’s books.

MorganMatson
I got this picture off of Morgan Matson’s website in case any of you were wondering 🙂

I’ve read every single one of her books multiple times (except Second Chance Summer, because 1. It makes me sob and 2. I don’t have a physical copy of it) and until reading Save the Date I never realized that there was a common theme in her books that now really bugs me.

In almost every single one of these books, the main character is a high school student (I think every single one is said to be 17) and the love interest is in college. As I was reading STD (yes, I am going to refer to it as that for the rest of this post, sorry!!) I kind of figured that Jesse was going to be a scumbag, it just made sense that Charlie had to have her little crush shattered by the person she thought was her “dream guy”. It made me so uncomfortable that Jesse is a sophomore in college and he’s trying to have a casual hook-up relationship not only with his best friend’s sister but also a high schooler.

Matson’s main characters are all romanced and a few are even implied to have lost their virginities to these college boys. To me this just screams inappropriate. I get that a lot of these are very innocent, I mean apart from scumbag Jesse, the farthest Charlie goes with a guy is a kiss on the cheek from Bill at the end of STD. There’s also a whole lot of underage drinking and other shenanigans… Like in The Unexpected Everything Andie was almost caught drinking at the age of 14, yep FOURTEEN! And okay, maybe I did spend my entire high school career reading books and staying up too late scrolling through Tumblr and taking too many AP classes but I still feel like 14 is really young to be out partying.

When I first read Matson’s books I was in high school and I never thought anything of an age difference or even a lifestyle difference but now that I’m older and have gone off to college and just been in the “real world” for a while I can’t even begin to imagine wanting to date a high schooler. Now I do think it’s different when someone continues to date a younger boyfriend/girlfriend when they leave for college but I also don’t feel comfortable with people who do things like date a freshman when they’re a senior. And yes, most of the characters are just finishing up their first years of school (or in Clark’s case, not in school at all) but that’s a whole year of being an adult and they’re deciding to be with high schoolers.

And you know what, maybe I’m crazy in developing this dislike for the pairings that are developed in these books but I just feel like no one who has moved past high school should be dating someone who is still 17. I’m in no way condemning Matson’s books, but I also don’t want impressionable young girls to read these books and fall for the Jesse’s because it’s “cool” or “exciting” to be in love with a college guy. Trust me, young girls reading this, college guys aren’t that great… Honestly, most guys aren’t that great. Read your books and wait to find someone who actually cares about you!

On a similar note, I also have never found myself interested in books where college students fall for their professors. I just think it’s a storyline that doesn’t make sense. There’s a power difference there that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t really think that there needs to be as many stories involving this storyline as there are.

As I’m working through Morgan Matson’s books again this spring, as I tend to do, I have to wonder how many other odd tropes I’ve just looked over in books before. Like I mentioned in my Rereading Old Favorites post I have to take a step back from a good chunk of my old favorites just because there are so many issues in them now that I completely brushed over in the past.

I really do like Matson’s books but I do hope that girls don’t romanticize dating an older boy because of the couples that she creates. When I was first reading her books it never occurred to me that this could even be an issue, I didn’t know any older boys and honestly I know that not a single one would’ve looked my way anyways. But I know that there are other girls out there that would and still will catch the attention of older men and I genuinely worry. I know that high school relationships can be awkward but that doesn’t mean that we have to glorify dating older people because they’re “mature” and “experienced”.

All in all, I don’t want to just brush this off but at the same time I have to wonder just how influential these relationships might be… I mean, maybe I’m reading too much into things and it means nothing. But I just got that nagging thought after reading STD and had to sit down to write about it.

Do any of you have thoughts on this? Or know of other YA books that have this trope? I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head but I’m sure there are others out there.